Ok, wow. I decided I desperately needed to start a blog since there is so much going on and it's way too hard to update everybody individually.
Korea has been GREAT so far. I really like it! My roommate, Whitney and I (we get along so well :)) have been exploring our town Gwangju (which is actually a pretty big city - a lot bigger than I thought). Soo glad I'm not living in Seoul. Lets see...the first full day we were here we went out to lunch with "Mr. Moon", aka Alex. He is like a general manager at the school I'm teaching at, and he's been super friendly and helpful with a lot of things. He took us to this one restaurant where you sit on the floor - as you do in pretty much all the restaurants. And you take your shoes off everywhere too - well restaurants, your house, and at school (but we wear slipper things at school). I couldn't tell you what we ate for lunch.. some kind of beef soup (that we cooked on our table), along with many different kinds of Kimchi (they serve that with everything - it's a big thing in Korea), um and whole bunch of other stuff that was super duper spicy!! And it didn't help that our water cups were about the size of a shot glass, so that was interesting. My lips were on fire. After our lunch we went and walked around our little block - we discovered a coffee shop with free internet (and pretty good frappachinos). A Dunkin Donuts and Baskins Robins! :) A funny store with hilarious random knick knacks - They have English phrases written on stuff that make no sense whatsoever. We also walked to E-Mart!! Which is like Wal-Mart. (except it's really not as cheap) it just has everything there! 3 levels. Food, clothing, houseware/electronics. And to get upstairs/downstairs they have these flat inclined escalators, so you can bring your carts!
The next day, Alex took us to the hospital to get our health checks. They took our weight, height, took an eye sight and hearing test, had an x-ray, had blood taken, and a drug test. They went very fast with everything - all that would have probably taken 5 hours in the states.
On Saturday we went to a bamboo park. Which was really neat, lots and lots of bamboo trees. On the way home we went to a Pork BBQ place...it was interesting. A ton of food! And it takes forever for me to eat, since chopsticks are a little difficult - especially when eating slippery noodles, thats like impossible. Ate octopus for the first time though.. and it didn't taste that bad. Apparently they serve it live sometimes too..I think I'll pass on that. That night Whitney and I met some of the other English teachers at our school downtown for a pub crawl. That was fun. All the other teachers at our school are really nice and they're all around the same age as us. We went to about 5 different bars. We ended at a "foreigner bar". We walked in and it was like we were not in Korea anymore, it was packed full of Americans/Brits/Canadians/Australians. It was also a karaoke bar - so it was a lot of fun.
When walking the streets, the Korean kids are soo cute, they see Americans and they are so excited to say "Hello!!"
Started actually teaching on Wednesday, and it's been really overwhelming and stressful. They just kinda handed us some books and threw us in the classrooms. We both didn't even know what pages the class was on in the workbooks. It's so very complicated and even harder to explain. So I'll try - I start teaching at 9:30, and all morning, well until 2:15 I teach Kindergarten (Kinders!). Each class is only 30 minutes and we have 5 minute breaks in between. I teach about 6 Kinder classes a day (somedays less - so I get 45 minute breaks somedays). The class sizes range from about 6-11 kids per class. All the teachers are in split up into 2 offices and have our own little desks. The classrooms are upstairs and the kids stay in their classroom - the teachers come to them. So we all have little baskets and we bring what we need for that class - and then once the class is over we just leave. Which is so strange just to leave these 5 year olds unattended (until their next teacher come in). So I basically teach vocab, story reading, math, phonics..and a few other things. The first thing we are supposed to do every day (which gets very repetative) is ask each student how they are feeling today (and why), and they have to respond in a complete sentence "I am happy/sad/angry/sleepy/whatever, because.." And then I draw a face (according to their mood) next to their name on the white board. And then I ask what the date is today, and what the weather is like outside and draw a picture of the weather. So that takes about 15-20 minutes of the 30 minute class.
We have a lunch break at 11:45 and they serve lunch there. It's always rice, kimchi, tofu soup, and some other mystery food. It's not that bad. But I'm already sick of the rice - which isn't a good sign. Soo..I'm either going to get used to it or find something I like to bring for lunch everyday. Anyways..at 2:15 I have a 45 minute break and then I start teaching again at 3. From 3 to about 6:20 (on M,W,F) and 4:40 (T,Th) I teach elementary. Either 2 or 3 classes. These are 50 minute classes and these classes they do a little more work and they take tests and have homework, and do book reports.
It amazes me how smart these kids are!! In Kindergarten they are learning stuff that 2nd graders learn in the states, and they are learning it in a different language!! Yesterday I (tried) to teach 5 year olds how to read! (I don't even know if they can read in Korean yet!) The kids are 5 year olds here, but they are really only 4, because in Korea when you are born you are 1. And these kids (well starting in elementary) go to school pretty much all day until about 9 or 10 at night. They all go to probably about 5 different academys a day. Public school, piano school, English school (my school), math school, etc. It's crazy. Oh, and then they go home and study.
All the kids have American names. They have a Korean name and an English name. So they all have common names - Charlie, Brent, Julie, Trisha, Max, Hayley... It's weird but when they first go to school a teacher gets to give them an English name. So I may be able to name someone! :) For the most part they are all normal names, but there are some kids who have crazy names, such as Ocean and T-Rex. Yea. The kids are great though! They are soo adorable! They call the teachers "thier first name-teacher" So I'm Caroline-teacher. Or just teacher. Except they can't really say their r's or l's. So my name is a little hard for them.
The kids are pretty well behaved for the most part, not as well behaved as I thought they would be though. The Kinders especially are a little wild and crazy. But I think thats because they know the English teachers don't carry around a wooden stick. (Yes all the Korean teachers carry a stick with them and can hit the kids on their hands or sometimes head) We can't hit them but we can send them to a Korean teacher to be hit if they get 3 strikes.
It's finally the weekend (this was the longest week ever) and Whitney and I can explore some more of Korea. I'll take some more pictures and post them on facebook. Sorry this blog was kind of all over the place. There's so much to say - it's hard to pick and choose what to write. I'll try to update this as much as possible though. I love and miss everyone! :)